After 8 years, Ladoja’s N4.7 billion money laundering trial starts afresh

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Wednesday re-arraigned a Rashidi Ladoja before a Federal High Court, Lagos, over N4.7 billion alleged money laundering.

Wednesday’s arraignment occurs eight years after the former Oyo governor was first charged.

Mr. Ladoja is charged alongside his former aide, Waheed Akanbi, on eight counts bordering on the alleged offence.

The duo pleaded not guilty to the charges.

After their pleas, the prosecutor, Oluwafemi Olabisi, asked the court to fix a date for commencement of trial.

In response, defence counsel, Bolaji Onilenla and Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika, informed the court of their clients’ bail applications.

Mr. Onilenla, representing Mr. Ladoja, urged the court to allow his client continue on the bail conditions earlier granted him in 2008 by Justice A.R. Mohammed.

He submitted that the first accused had kept good faith with the terms and conditions of the bail and that there was no single incidence of default.

He assured the court that his client will “behave himself’’ and make himself available for trial.

According to Mr. Onilenla, in case the court is not inclined to allowing Ladoja to continue with the previous bail, then the court should grant bail on liberal terms.

The counsel to the other accused, Olumide-Fusika, also aligned himself with the submissions of Onilenla.

The prosecutor objected to the bail application and urged the court to refuse the same on the grounds that the accused had frustrated trial for years through their appeals challenging the competence of the charges.

Ruling, Justice Mohammed Idris held that the court could not deny the accused bail on account of exercise of their constitutional rights of appeal, resulting in the delay of the case.

The court added that there was no evidence that the accused breached the terms of the bail granted them eight years ago.

The court, therefore, allowed the accused to continue with the bail as granted by Justice A.R. Mohammed eight years ago.

Mr. Idris held: “It is not out of place for this court to revalidate the order of A.R. Mohammed.”

He adjourned the case to February 14, 15 and 16, 2017 for commencement of trial.

The News Agency of Nigeria recalls that Mr. Ladoja was granted bail on September 5, 2008, in the sum of N100 million with two sureties in like sum.

In the charge marked FHC/L/336C/08, the EFCC alleged that the duo conspired to convert properties and resources derived from an illegal act, with the intention of concealing their illicit origin.

The anti-graft agency also alleged that Mr. Ladoja used N42 million out of the proceeds to purchase an Armoured Land Cruiser Jeep, and remitted about £600,000 to one Bimpe Ladoja in London.

The offences are said to have contravened the provisions of sections 14 (a) and 17 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004.

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